24/09/2008 - 22:00

Perth CBD facing electricity shortfall

24/09/2008 - 22:00

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THE CBD will face a power shortfall in 2010 unless Western Power installs $100 million worth of new electrical infrastructure to cater for the increased demand on the grid from new office and apartment buildings.

Perth CBD facing electricity shortfall

THE CBD will face a power shortfall in 2010 unless Western Power installs $100 million worth of new electrical infrastructure to cater for the increased demand on the grid from new office and apartment buildings.

Western Power is finalising its second access arrangement, due to be lodged with the state's Economic Regulation Authority at the start of October, which will outline its funding needs from 2009 to 2012.

As part of this process, it is expected to request about $100 million for new electrical substations in the CBD to supply the 23 office towers and additional apartment buildings, which are scheduled for, or will be approaching, completion at the end of the period.

Western Power forecasting manager Raphael Ozsvath said he could not disclose an exact figure, but said the agency would be requesting a significant amount of money from the ERA.

"If all of the projects go ahead that have been scheduled, we would need another two to three substations, of a size we usually build in the country," he said.

"We estimate it will be in the region of 30 to 50 MVA for the next six to 10 years, starting from next year."

Mr Ozsvath said the agency had revised upwards its demand forecast from two or three years ago, although he said the grid was able to cope with the current load and could absorb some growth.

"It's the spike in development that we need to cater for and adjust our plans slightly. We're not concerned for the next year or two," he said.

"Obviously, it depends on which projects come on line, and that will be driven by the market."

Recent fallout from the global credit crunch has led to serious doubts over the viability of a number of the city's proposed office towers, potentially reducing the level of increased capacity required.

However, the estimates put forward by Western Power may not capture all of the future demand, with some developers yet to lodge their forecast usage figures with the agency.

Another hurdle for Western Power will be finding suitable locations for its new substations and negotiating with building owners to install them.

More than three sites are likely to be required, because there are too few undeveloped land parcels in the city large enough to accommodate a major substation.

Mr Ozsvath said it was difficult to estimate how much extra power would be required, with uncertainty hanging over some commercial developments, as well as the waterfront project and Northbridge Link.

Office projects that are yet to pre-commit tenants - including the Grosvenor and Melbourne hotel redevelopments, Finbar's office tower at the Fairlanes bowling site, Griffin Group's proposed tower next to City Square and Qube Property Group's 999 Hay Street building - are more likely to be scrapped than those that have signed anchor leases.

Also falling within this category is Bishops See stage two, which is yet to officially lock in the Department of Premier and Cabinet as its anchor tenant.

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